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Virtual book club meetings provide chance to connect


A regular catch-up held by Hastings District Libraries and the Blind Low Vision NZ book club has been sorely missed while COVID-19 restrictions have been in place, but a new alternative has ensured the group has been able to stay connected.

The group, called Tea with Tales, is made up of a cheery bunch of older adults with significant vision loss.

“We normally meet the first Monday of each month in the Hastings Library and enjoy sharing reviews of books we have read and swapping amongst ourselves,” says librarian Veronica Hogan.

To overcome the obstacles of people not being able to gather, library staff worked with the Blind Low Vision team to move this programme to a phone conferencing platform while physical distancing restrictions are in place.

“The Tea with Tales members were really excited to reconnect with each other in this virtual shared space, and it was extra special for one member who celebrated his 92nd birthday during lockdown.”

During his time with the group, he became an avid Charity Norman fan and was excited to hear of Charity’s book launch in Napier earlier this year.

“He rounded up the group, they organised a sighted driver and off they went to meet her. They had such a great time, and they are still talking about it.”

The loss of iconic New Zealand magazines like New Zealand Listener and North & South due to decisions made during the COVID-19 crisis are being felt by these readers, says Ms Hogan.

“They all got these magazines on audio, recorded by Blind Low Vision NZ, and these titles were very popular. Members are really disappointed that they have been discontinued.”

Libraries manager Paula Murdoch says with the necessity of physical distancing due to COVID-19 the library has had to come up with alternative ways to offer some programmes and engage groups.

“While we have had to put some programmes on hold until Level 1, we have managed work arounds for others.”

For updates to library programmes and COVID-19 FAQs go to or follow the Libraries Facebook page.

28 May 2020

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